Category Archives: free

The Spot Writers – “New York 2019” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. September’s prompt: mistaken identity—a story where a mistaken identity plays a major role.

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

MISTER WOLFE (the sequel) coming soon!

***

New York 2019 

Although Jane often read horoscopes and took quizzes, she had never been upset over the outcomes, but this one was too ominous to ignore. As a result, she and Ned would have to cancel their annual trip to New York City.

We’ll go somewhere else, she thought. Anywhere but New York. Togetherness mattered, not the destination. No way would she enjoy herself with such a dire premonition hanging over her.

She’d make up an excuse, for Ned wouldn’t understand. He’d laugh, call her a silly cupcake, but in the end, he’d acquiesce. Couldn’t she be tired of the same place every year?

She broached the subject over dinner. “Let’s go somewhere different this year.”

“But it’s tradition,” Ned said. “We love New York.”

“I know, but can’t we skip a year?”

“Why?”

Silent for several seconds, she sighed. “You’ll make fun of me.”

“I won’t.”

“You will.”

“I promise I won’t.”

She produced a paper. “I took a quiz on Facebook that tells a person when and how they’ll die. It told me I’ll die by a sniper’s bullet in New York City in 2019.”

Ned, rolling his eyes, ignored the proffered sheet.

She glared at her husband. “You promised you wouldn’t laugh.”

“I’m not laughing. It’s coincidental but kind of farfetched, don’t you think? A sniper? And this year?”

“We go every year. What’s coincidental about that? I can’t go. I’d be peering over my shoulder every second.” She laughed, trying to lessen the impact of her demand.

Ned sighed. “Okay, we can go somewhere else. Atlantic City?”

***

Jane and Ned settled into the Atlantic City Hotel. After a sumptuous dinner, they strolled the streets, which bustled with tourists. Throngs of people congregated at casinos and bars, but everyone minded their own business. Ned felt he and Jane were inconspicuous.

“What a beautiful evening.” Jane glanced at the sky. “Another hour until the sun sets.”

“A beautiful night for sure.” Ned had barely spoken the words when he noticed a young man approaching. Drunk, he figured, but his long dark coat was uncharacteristic of the mild temperature. His skin prickled, and he gripped his wife’s hand. When the man made eye contact but quickly passed by, Ned relaxed.

Then, almost immediately, shots rang out. Seconds—or was it minutes?—passed before he realized Jane had fallen. People screamed and raced away while others dropped to the ground as his wife had.

Ned collapsed beside her, cradling her head in his arms.  “Jane!” He crushed his wife to his chest. Tears careened down his cheeks, disappearing into her grey hair. Images appeared before him in slow motion: Jane wearing a wedding gown, Jane birthing two children, Jane’s welcoming greetings at the kitchen door.

“9-1-1,” someone shouted.

Later that evening, the police advised Ned that he and Jane had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The deranged individual, a native of New York, who had recently relocated to Atlantic City, had aimed indiscriminately. Jane had been the sole victim.

Weeks later, Ned discovered the Facebook print-out he had neglected to read:

You will die by the hand of a New York sniper in 2019.

“Oh, Jane, you misread everything,” Ned mumbled.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under books, free, freebies, Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “The Botanical Mystery Writer” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. August’s prompt is to use these five words in a story or poem: besides, fishes, inn, owing, born.

This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

 The Botanical Mystery Writer by Chiara De Giorgi

 “If you need me, I’ll be at the inn!”

I stepped outside and strode to the car. As soon as I sat behind the wheel, I regretted my words. The whole point of me staying at the inn for a few days was to get away, to have more space, to be quiet and finally be able to concentrate and write. The twelve chapters I was owing to my editor were screaming to be written, but there was always something more urgent, more important, more… I don’t know.

It was so frustrating! I had been so happy, when my agent had called me! Guess what? I sold your botanical mystery series! It’ll be a success, I tell you! It is as if you were born to be a botanical mystery writer! Yeah, well: apparently I was also born to be the wild card for my family, especially after that fateful phone call.

The advance from the publisher was good enough for me to quit my job as an underpaid waitress at the lousy diner just outside town, and my brother and sisters were quick to take advantage of the situation, Since you’re not working, please take Mother to the doctor’s tomorrow. Since you’re not working, please be a good auntie and pick up the twins after ballet class. Since you’re not working, please go to the grocery store and buy food for everyone. And so on. I’ve been so busy with everybody else’s needs, I haven’t had the time to sit down and write, yet. And my first deadline is coming up, in just a week. That’s why I booked a quiet room at the inn in the woods. I shouldn’t have told them.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, I muttered while driving up the winding road. They had never taken me seriously, neither me nor my ambition to become a writer. This world needs people who work with their hands, not people who play with their words. Why don’t you do something useful, something worthy? Do you really think you’ll be able to live off your books? And what’s a botanical mystery, anyway?

I gripped the steering wheel and grunted. Oh, I so wanted to show them! Maybe they’d been boycotting me on purpose.

Suddenly I pushed the brake pedal. I had never noticed that sign before: a B&B right up the hill. Not the inn everybody knew about. The sign said “B&B He Fishes – The Perfect Retreat – 4 miles”. If I met fishermen, they could assist me with the plot twist I was considering, which involved the attempted murder of a fisherman. The B&B was only four miles on the left, while the inn was twelve miles up north. It would save me precious time, besides being somewhere nobody would be able to find me.

I quickly typed a message and sent it to all my siblings: “If you need me, I WON’T be at the inn”. Then switched off the phone and turned left.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

Leave a comment

Filed under books, free, freebies, Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “A New York Reunion” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story in which mistaken identity plays a major role. Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. Find out more at www.CorgiCapers.com.

***

A New York Reunion by Val Muller

With her son moved out–he was on a three-month surveying expedition in Africa, and largely out of contact for the duration–the house was too quiet. How many times could she vacuum and dust Rob’s room? An absent son left no messes to clean. Funny, all those years when cleaning and cooking and laundry seemed never-ending. And now what she wouldn’t give for a son or a husband to care for.

Janet knew she’d have to downsize. It wasn’t really the money: Micheal’s life insurance policy had paid for the house and left her a modest safety net. Her job at the college paid all her bills, so she saved Micheal’s nest egg for retirement. But she was too young to retire. She had too much life left. And the house kept her too tied to her son and late husband. She was an empty-nester now. Now it was time to focus on herself.

Which is why she found herself in the City. The college was out for a brief fall break–yes, even special collections librarians got the time off–and she took the four-day weekend to bus into the city. She stayed at a modest hotel outside of Manhattan (it was still ridiculously expensive, but what the heck?). She decided not to do all the touristy things. She’d seen the sights before, done all the touristy things back in her college days. This time, she visited local shops, looked off the beaten path.

Which is what brought her to KatKafe. She’d stopped in expecting a cup of coffee only to find the KatKafe was actually a book store, with no caffeine or cats to be found. She browsed the shelves. The books were all so new and supple. Nothing like the fragile collections she housed at the library. Here, she could actually handle the books, touch their pages, indulge for enjoyment and let down her guard.

This morning, during a walk through Central Park, she remembered the tapestry she’d hung on her dormitory wall. Everyone had a tapestry back then, it seemed. Hers was from freshman year, a highly-stylized illustration of a dozen or so angels meeting on the head of a pin. They were surrounded by celestial miasma. And didn’t that perfectly capture her personality in college? It was all about possibilities and pushing limits.

And there were the handfuls of friends in various circles, ones she still saw on social media but not personally in years. Decades. Gosh, she’d gotten old. There were her junior-year apartment-mates: Jennifer, Jess, and Jenn (the 3 J’s, they were called). Then there were her library cohort buddies: Matt and Ashley and Riley. And a handful of friends from the hip-hop club where she bravely but pitifully practiced her dancing skills.

There was Henry, of course. There was always Henry. He was the one that got away. After two years of on-again, off-again, they simply drifted apart. She always suspected they were too passionate about each other. The intensity of her feelings scared her, anyhow. Made her stupid and irrational. But isn’t that what love does? With Micheal it had been different. Words had come easily to her. Her heart didn’t flutter stupidly when he entered the room, but intellectual conversations flowed prodigiously. Micheal was more like a comfy hoodie. Henry was like bungee jumping. And you can’t bungee jump every second of your life, can you?

Janet was flipping through a book about the cosmos when she saw him. His hair was gray now, but its wild cowlicks were unmistakable. When he looked up from his book–he was also browsing in the section on natural sciences–the sparkle in his eye pierced her heart. Isn’t that just like fate, to throw him back at her in a second chance.

“Henry?” she screamed. But she didn’t scream it. She didn’t even say it. Her mind willed it, but her mouth would not comply. Her heart fluttered ridiculously, just as it had always done. Why did Henry make her so stupid? Just. Say. Hi. You are a grown woman. What is wrong with you? She forced herself to think of things scarier than talking to Henry. Childbirth. Her son leaving home. Losing her husband. This is nothing, you silly cow. Say. Hi. To. Him.

She cleared her throat and he looked up.

Oh, come on, she plead. But her brain-body sabotaged all efforts. Say. Something.

He smiled. That same lopsided smile that melted her heart. “I see we have similar tastes.” He pointed with his eyes to her book.

“You know I’ve always fancied space,” she managed.

“Same,” he said.

Her mind raced, but every word in the English language meant nothing.

Say. Something.

“I’m here alone,” she said. The words surprised her. So she was going for blunt honesty? Desperation, even? Maybe. Maybe she was tired of being alone. “I mean, my son is grown and moved out. And my husband’s been gone for…” He was cocking his head. Was this a good thing? Should she stop talking? She shook her head. “I’m sorry. I just thought, after all these years, why beat around the bush anymore, right? You’re here, I’m here. I thought this was an actual cafe, and I really need a coffee. Would you–care to join me?” She realized she ought to smile, and she was shocked to find herself already beaming, without her knowledge.

He smiled back and grabbed the book out of her hand, bringing it to the cash register. “My treat,” he said. “I always thought the way to a woman’s heart was through books, not drinks.”

She raised an eyebrow and nodded. Henry had certainly grown more assertive, too. She eyed his fingers as he paid for the books. Not a wedding ring to be found. Last she’d heard, he’d been married, but he wasn’t big on social media, and she was too ashamed to stalk him. Maybe the stars were finally aligning.

“There’s a great shop right down the block. We can get a cup, and I know a little park bench we can snag.” He handed her the newly-purchased book.

“Thanks, Henry,” she said.

He looked confused. “Good guess,” he said. “That would be something if it were right. It’s James,” he said, taking her hand.

Her hand went limp for just an instant before she firmed it up and laced her fingers with James. He was neither a warm hoodie nor a bungee jump. He was somewhere in the middle. Like a new flavor of coffee and a book she’d never heard of. And maybe that was just what she needed.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

Leave a comment

Filed under books, free, freebies, Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “Fair Treatment?” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to The Spot Writers. August’s prompt is to use these five words in a story or poem: besides, fishes, inn, owing, born.

Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. Last December, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

***

“Fair Treatment?” by Phil Yeats

I sat in the country inn waiting for my co-conspirators. Did anyone besides me harbour doubts about our plans for the evening? Our target was beyond redemption, a privileged individual born to wealth but no more than a petty criminal, a conman owing money to everyone. And his latest scheme, if it succeeded, would destroy the town and impoverish all its citizens. We’d exhausted all other options, but was it right that tonight he would sleep with the fishes?

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com/

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

Leave a comment

Filed under books, free, freebies, Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – Poseidon’s Consort” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This week’s prompt is to use the following words in a poem or a story: besides, fishes, inn, owing, born.

Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. Learn more at http://www.corgicapers.com.

Poseidon’s Consort by Val Muller

Shivering in the sea breeze in the setting sun, Amphitrite made her way to the only inn in town. She already missed the calm, perpetual whirl of the ocean, the warmth of water. The air made everything feel too cold and open, even as it carried the comforting, salty scent, reminding her that home was only a few steps away…

Besides, she reminded herself, this little trip was her choice.

The inn smelled of humans and earthy, old, stagnant scents. The air lacked the fluidity of water. Someone was cooking a stew or a chowder, but it smelled more of chickens and boiled onions than of fishes.

Amphitrite approached the innkeeper. She had to do this, she reminded herself. Poseidon had been raging too long, and she needed a break. Why she was the only being who could calm his tempestuous rage was beyond her. Normally she just dealt with it and kept the balance of the sea, but tonight she had enough. Not even the dolphins or the whales could calm her.

“Needing a room?” the innkeeper asked. He wiped his hands on a rag and sized her up. His eyes remained dim, seeming unimpressed with what he saw.

She nodded and adjusted the scarf around her hair, her dry and baggy clothes, trying to absorb his accent. Humans had such awful nuances in dialect and diction. But before she could answer, a man broke through the door, his hair wild and eyes wide, no doubt owing to the wind battering against the door.

“Storm! Tempest!” he yelled. “Poseidon’s enraged!”

A barrage of men, mostly sailors, hurried in and pushed past Amphitrite. The innkeeper screamed over their frantic din, their worries over Poseidon’s mood and the fate of their ships.

“Must be a spat with his missus,” one said.

The innkeeper’s hands grew heavy with the coins he collected as all the rooms were rented out, two or three or more men to a bed. Desperation and panic at the storm turned to banter as the men turned to drinking and tales. The innkeeper could finally turn back to Amphitrite, forgotten and pushed to the corner. He apologized for the lack of rooms. Amphitrite smiled, letting her hair out of its scarf and letting her eyes glow like sea jewels. She did not disguise her voice but instead let it flow melodious like the sea. Before long, he’d invited her to his own private quarters, recent widower that he was.

She smiled, knowing after a night with her, once she returned to the sea to calm her husband’s rage, the innkeeper would rename the inn for her and send her golden coins each week, ones that sparkled when the sun filtered through the saltwater. She would feed his business, for a time, with her little trysts to dry land, allowing her husband to rage now and then, driving business to the inn. How fun it would be to see how many coins the innkeeper would send her way.

She let her dress slip from her shoulder. The innkeeper was nothing special, but he was an authority figure here in this little town by the sea, whatever it was called. What harm could it do? After all, she thought as she led him to his room by the hand, like a mermaid or a siren pulling a catch beneath the waves, why should Zeus have all the fun?

***

The Spot Writers:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

 

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, free, freebies, Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “The Tree of Dorian Gray” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is a story about a tree of (any type of) significance that is cut or falls down.

This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

The Tree of Dorian Gray

by Chiara De Giorgi

 

Do you remember the first time you acted badly? I mean consciously. Like, for example you told a lie and were aware that your lie would damage another; or you stole something with the clear purpose of hurting someone. Me, I think I was seven, and I did both.

 

I was angry with Toby, my neighbor and class-mate. We had spent a whole afternoon together at his place, working on a school project. It was about ecology. We built a model of a landscape with pebbles and leaves, I think it was really cute in the end. The following morning, Toby fell down the stairs while he was carrying the model. He broke his arm, and the model. Miss Brown was very sympathetic and gave us another week to bring in another one, but I was upset. He should have been more careful. So I planned my revenge.

A few weeks later, it was Laura and Mindy’s turn to present their project, I think it was a pyramid or something, I don’t remember. Anyway, during lunch I stole it and hid it inside Toby’s schoolbag. Then I went to Miss Brown and told her I had seen Toby steal and hide the girls’ model. Toby was punished, both by Miss Brown and his own parents, and I felt bad. Not enough, though, to gather enough courage and tell the truth.

I was ashamed of myself for what I’d done, and ran to the woods, screaming and crying. I stopped by a large tree and told it everything. When my speech was over, I realized I could blame Toby: hadn’t he crushed our model, nothing would have happened. I felt better at once, and I went back home.

 

After that, I got used to going to the large tree every time I did something that bothered my conscience. Soon I noticed that the tree was slowly rotting away. The more the tree decomposed, the less my conscience bothered me, until one day I realized I could do anything I wanted and not be bothered at all.

By then I was older and read “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. How I loved that book! I named my tree “The Tree of Dorian Gray”, and felt completely free for the first time in my life. I could be and do whatever I wanted, the tree would rot and I would stay spotless. Incredibly, none of my malfeasances caused people to dislike or accuse me. It was always somebody else who paid the price in the end.

I should have known that it couldn’t last forever.

 

When the first injunction reached me, and then the second, and the third… I realized something must have happened. I went to the woods and saw: Where so many tall trees used to grow, concealing “my” tree from the view, now was a construction site. There were no trees anymore.

 

I know what awaits me now: injunctions will keep coming and coming, every wrong I’ve ever made in the dark will be exposed.

It’s over.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

 

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].

Leave a comment

Filed under books, free, freebies, Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “Images” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story involving a tree of (any type of) significance that has either fallen or was cut down.

This story (albeit a week late) comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s first novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama, is available from her locally or on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

MISTER WOLFE, the sequel, coming soon!

***

“Images” by Cathy MacKenzie

“You can’t let him cut down that tree, Mom.”

“Oh, sweetie, it’s just a tree.” My mother peered down at me. “What’s wrong?”

“The tree. I want that tree.” I stomped my feet. “It’s mine.”

Mom flailed her arms. “Stop it right now. For one thing, it’s not your tree. Mother Nature owns trees, not us.”

“Is so my tree. Dad told me so.”

I ignored the tears welling in her eyes and prayed they wouldn’t cascade down her cheeks. I might not be able to ignore them then.

Mom didn’t say anything. Had she given up on me—in disgust? Or could she not be bothered? I tried her patience many times.

When she continued to act as though I wasn’t there, I returned to my room, where I fell to the bed. Life was hard for kids. I desperately wanted to be an adult so I could do what I wanted and not take orders from anyone.

Then again…

I got up from the bed and looked out the window. The tree was in plain sight, at the edge of our property. It wasn’t that big to be causing so much trouble, but it was healthy with an abundance of leaves that fell in the fall, especially when the wind blew. When Dad planted it the day I was born, it was about as tall as him. Apparently, I sat beside him, snug in my infant’s chair, while he dug the hole.

And now, crabby old Mr. Aaron Drummond was raising a stink because leaves were falling onto his driveway. What a crock.

“It’s too close to my property line,” he’d bellowed, pointing to our house. “Look at your yard. It didn’t need to be anywhere near my property.”

“I realize that,” Mom had replied. “My husband thought the line extended another three feet.”

“That ain’t my problem. Move it, or I call the city hot line. Or I cut it down myself.”

“We have no choice,” Mom had mumbled as we walked away, leaving Mr. Drummond cursing under his breath. “Your father definitely planted it too close to the property line.”

“Can’t we move it?” I had asked.

“Birch trees don’t like to be disturbed. It’ll die if we disturb it.”

“So you’re gonna just let it die without giving it a chance?”

“Sweetie, it’s just a tree. We’ll plant another, okay?”

“Mom, I don’t want another. I want this one.”

Mom had ignored me then, too.

I closed my curtains and went back to bed. My father’s face flashed in front of me.

The next morning, I woke to unusual sounds in the front yard. I raced to the window and spread the curtains. There was cranky Mr. Drummond, axe in hand, hacking at the tree. Mom’s words that birches don’t like to be disturbed rattled through my head. Too late. Those sores wouldn’t heal.

Neither would mine—or Dad’s. He had been killed by a felled tree while out in the woods cutting firewood. Mom found him late that evening after he didn’t return for dinner. I was four. I vaguely remember him. Mom said I must have blocked him from my mind because I should remember him more than I do. Maybe so.

But even though my father comes to me in dreams, the only face I see is the smiling one in the frame on my dresser. And now, the tree that Dad planted will appear in my dreams, too.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++

C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, free, Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “Our Big Old Chestnut” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is a story about a tree of (any type of) significance that is cut or falls down.

Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. Last December, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

***

Our big old Chestnut by Phil Yeats

 

I checked the caller ID after my phone chirped. “Hey Sis, what’s up?”

“Damn tree, it’s broken another window.”

I sighed, unsurprised by the abrupt announcement without as much as a hello, how are you. That’s how our minimally communicative family behaved.

“The old chestnut, I suppose.”

She snorted. “What else. It’s old, rotting, and too damned close to the house. A bloody limb broke off, but Mum won’t let us cut it down.”

I checked my appointment calendar. “Two meetings this morning that I can’t avoid. I’ll head out as soon as I’m clear.”

“Here between five and six?”

“Looks like it.”

 

At one, I left the city that had been my home for two decades to the town where I lived as a teenager. My formative years hadn’t been easy ones. We lived in an isolated off-the-grid house that complicated most activities, but the real problem was my father’s strange beliefs.

He’d sit for hours reading his bible but didn’t attend church. We didn’t belong to any known Christian congregation, but he based his life on the insights he gained from his readings.

He never tried to influence me, or expect us to follow his example, but it made us different, outcasts from society. I followed my own muse until my eighteenth birthday. On that morning, my almost non-existent father announced that his bible reading taught him it was my duty as his son to leave home and never return. He didn’t just kick me out. He provided a substantial nest egg that would, in his view, provide for the college education I needed to find my calling.

And what about my mother, you might ask? She was an enigma, seen but seldom heard, and never known to express an opinion. And my little sister? She was only twelve when I left.

Ten years later, I returned to the family home. My father had died, and I thought my mother and sister, now twenty-three and living at home, would need me.

My first homecoming was a strange event. Mother didn’t acknowledge my presence and my sister appeared incapable of dealing with the bizarre situation. But we made contact, and she eventually learned to approach me when dealing with our mother become too difficult.

 

This time, I bought a new window pane at the nearest glass shop the evening I arrived. In the morning, I climbed the tree and removed the broken limb. I discovered our chestnut was beyond hope, so soft a screwdriver sunk in to its hilt.

After installing the window pane, I found my sister tidying the already spotless kitchen. “You’re right about the tree. It’s unsafe, it must go.”

“But Mum won’t agree. It’s her house, she pays for everything and well, she makes all the decisions.”

I sighed, dreading the confrontation I couldn’t avoid. I’d been home two or three times a year in the decade since my initial return after my father died. During those trips, she never appeared. If I needed to discuss something, I visited her private sitting room. The meetings never went well.

 

“Come in Jacob,” she said when I knocked on her door. I was taken aback because she didn’t bark in her normal fashion. In fact, she sounded almost pleased to welcome me.

“Come stand by the window,” she added when I hesitated inside the door. “I watched you trying to repair our old chestnut. You’re here to tell me it must go.”

I nodded, and she continued before I said anything. “I remember watching with trepidation as you climbed into the highest branches, and Margaret with her dolls in the shade below. She was so timid, afraid to climb to the lowest branch. They’re among my few fond memories.”

She abandoned the window and strode to the door. “I assume you and Margaret will dine before you return to the city. Tell her I’ll join you.”

I stepped through the door. “And she should contact the arborist before that sickly old tree does any additional damage.”

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com/

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

Leave a comment

Filed under free, Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “Ponderosa” by Val Muller

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to write a story about a tree of (any type of) significance that is cut or falls down.

Today’s tale comes to us from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. You can read the ebook for just $2.99. The series, like the following story, is inspired by events of her childhood with a dash of whimsy and a serving of imagination.

***

Ponderosa By Val Muller

Today she would be a cowboy. She chose her cut-off jeans—because that’s what a cowboy would wear in the stifling summer heat. Buttoned up a checkered blouse. Donned her leather belt, the one with the two holsters. Stuck her two cap guns in and tied a red bandana around her neck. She wiped Froot Loop crumbs off her face and donned her straw cowboy hat.

Outside, her clubhouse would be a one-room frontier home. Her sandbox today would be her open fire, where she could roast deer and squirrel and mutton—whatever that was. She’d have to hunt, of course, in the forest of pines at the side of the house.

In the suburban neighborhood, those pines provided a bit of magic. The ponderosa’s soft needles fell to the ground like a mattress and muffled sound like a blanket of soft snow. The dripping sap spoke of frontiers, not minivans, and the leafy branches blocked the view of four other homes.

It was that row of ponderosa pines that made her frontier play possible. The needles, brought to her clubhouse, created a mattress and play food that could be mixed with sand or water or dirt to imagine any type of culinary delight of the frontier. At certain times of year, the sap could be collected and made into frontier potions and salves.

She started at her clubhouse, as she always did, tucked away in the furthermost corner of the back yard. The pantry was bare: she’d have to go hunting. Carefully, she lowered her hat and unholstered her weapons. A kill could be waiting around any corner. She shot a deer in the nearby field, but she missed. The imaginary deer leapt away, its escape warning countless others.

She’d have to travel further from home. With a nod of resolution, she made her way to the ponderosa forest. Turning the corner near the garage, she froze. Her pulse raced behind her ears. The tree was—

Gone.

In its place, a pile of logs, like bones snapped and bloodied by a predator. But it was no predator. The real world came rushing in. The frontier silence gave way to the ordinary sounds of a lawn mower, someone’s air conditioning, and the neighbor’s old dryer. And there, at the center of the massacre, was her father.

He and a neighbor were efficiently piling logs into a wheelbarrow. A million questions circled her head, but she could utter none of them. Her dad looked up only after the wheelbarrow was full.

“Ell,” he said. “I thought you were watching a movie with breakfast again.”

She shook her head.

Her dad rubbed the back of his neck and glanced bashfully at the neighbor, who graciously hoisted the wheelbarrow and made his way to the back yard, through the newly-opened passage at the side of the garage.

“This was all supposed to be a surprise, Ell,” he said.

“What?” It was all she could utter—barely a syllable.

“A pool,” he said. “We’re getting a pool. The excavator’s out front.” He pointed to a giant yellow machine sitting in the road in front of the house. In the paradise of childhood summer, she had not heard it during her sugary meal or her frontier plans.

“Pool,” she repeated senselessly.

“It couldn’t get to the back yard. You know, to dig the hole. It couldn’t fit. We had to cut either the pine or the forsythias, and the pine was getting kind of big, anyway.”

Ell turned to the other side of the house, where the forsythia bush peeked at her tauntingly, as if boasting its own existence in the wake of her pine.

“Hole?” she said.

Her mother materialized from inside, as if sensing shock. She held out a shiny brochure. “See, honey? A pool. It’ll be ready within the next week or two. We thought you and your friends would love to—”

Ellen listened patiently without hearing as her parents explained the benefits of the new pool. Her eyes were directed by adamant fingers to the pattern chosen for the pool’s liner, to the color of the pool’s siding and even the style of the ladder.

But all she saw was the brute strength of the industrial era, westward expansion driving the buffalo to near extinction. How could they cut down her pine? She nodded graciously and left her parents to clean up the remains of her pine. She quietly went inside to pout.

Before she threw herself on the bed, she removed her holsters, her hat, and her bandana. Cowboys had no place in such an industrial world. As the mechanized pattern of the excavator lulled her into a nap, her mind filled with images of cool blue water and a lost city of Atlantis.

Tomorrow, she would be a mermaid.

***

The Spot Writers:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

 

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

Leave a comment

Filed under books, free, freebies, Uncategorized

The Spot Writers – “One Historical Romance” by Chiara De Giorgi

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: a cat stares at something behind its owner’s back. What does it see?

This week’s story comes from Chiara De Giorgi. Chiara dreams, reads, edits texts, translates, and occasionally writes in two languages. She also has a lot of fun.

***

One Historical Romance by Chiara De Giorgi

My roommate, Jenny, loves to read historical romances.

Historical romances are basically love stories: out of eight hundred pages, at least six hundred are devoted to detailing hot intercourses and describing massive male chests and backs that are as vast as Greenland, but since in the remaining two hundred pages a king, a battle, a stronghold – or something of the kind – are featured, then they’re called “historical romances”. I also suspect the term “love stories” is widely despised.

So, anyway: Jenny loves those books. Recently, she’s seeking out all those that are set in Scotland, where the manlier men in the world apparently live: men that are so manly, they can wear a skirt! (The reason I know all these things, is that I normally sit next to Jenny while she’s reading, so as to peek at the pages and read along. Sure, sometimes I fall asleep, but that is normally not an issue, because when I wake up the hero and the damsel are still setting fire to the woods with their uncontrolled passion, just where I had left them.)

Sorry, I lost my train of thought.

A few nights ago Jenny threw a party. I really don’t like it, when Jenny throws a party. All those strangers prancing around the flat with their dirty shoes, claiming all couches and armchairs… it’s irritating. So, as usual, I stayed out of the way, half hidden behind a curtain. I was very still, and I scanned the crowd. I like to observe and deduce, I know things about people at first glance, that you wouldn’t believe. Once Jenny made me watch “Sherlock Holmes”: finally, a kindred spirit! Of course he had to be fictional.

Anyway. There I was, doing my thing, when he entered the room. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I stared at him from my hiding place, considering my options.

Suddenly, Jenny realized I was staring at something right behind her and she turned around. Damn it, now she was facing him, and her reaction was exactly what you can expect. She gasped and dropped her glass. He gallantly picked it up, while Jenny let her gaze slide all over his muscled body, his white shirt, and the sexiest kilt you can ever imagine. He looked like he had just jumped out of one of those historical romances, and Jenny was clearly determined to become his damsel. Could I allow such a waste of manhood? Of course not.

I quietly slipped out of my hideout and slowly made my way towards the two of them, keeping my eyes fixed right behind Jenny’s head – I know it creeps her out when I do that.

When I reached them, Jenny was flirting shamelessly and even shifted just enough as to conceal me from his sight. Unperturbed, I brushed up against his legs with a special technique of mine, tripping him up. He caught Jenny’s arm so as not to fall – not what I had wanted. But he had noticed me, and I knew he was mine.

He stroke me on my head and between my ears, baby-talking to me. “And who’s this beauty?”

I seized the moment and jumped in his arms, then I curled up against his formidable chest. Jenny was already defeated, but I lifted my eyes, stubbornly staring behind her head. There was nothing, of course, there’s never anything, but she doesn’t know that, does she?

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

+++
C.A. MacKenzie is the author of the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers, including Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under books, free, freebies, Uncategorized